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S. Carolina: Hey, Court-Appointed Attorneys Representing Indigents: We Won’t Pay You
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The Flag of South CarolinaIn South Carolina, most court-appointed lawyers who represent indigent clients in criminal and civil cases won’t get paid by the state after this Wednesday, because of budget cuts.

The SC Commission on Indigent Defense has voted to suspend the payment of legal fees in all non-capital criminal and civil cases.

Patton Adams, the agency’s executive director, says the commission will review the situation within 90 days to determine whether payments can resume.

  
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Court-appointed lawyers represent poor criminal defendants in cases that can’t be handled by public defenders, and in a type of appeal known as post-conviction relief. They also are appointed in child abuse and neglect cases in family court.

“Lawyers across the state will now have the obligation to represent people for free,” said attorney Joe McCulloch. “What other profession is required to do that?”

Charleston attorney Brad Waring, former president of the state Bar, said he believes that requiring lawyers to work for free is “flat unconstitutional.” He blames state lawmakers for the situation.

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Some lawyers have discussed the possibility of refusing court appointments, although they could be disciplined by the state Supreme Court, which regulates lawyers.

State Supreme Court Chief Justice Jean Toal said she is sympathetic to the lawyers’ concerns, but pointed out the US Supreme Court has ruled that criminal defendants facing jail or prison time must have lawyers even if they can’t afford one.



Attorneys who refuse those appointments “risk having those criminal convictions reversed because defendants were not provided with counsel,” she said.

The Palmetto State’s Judicial Department so far this year has suffered more than 20 percent in cuts, with more to come.

Via The State.



 

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